Parallelism in the Hanvueng: A Zhuang Verse Epic from West-Central Guangxi in Southern China

Zhuang is a Tai-Kadai language spoken in southern China. Parallelism is ubiquitous in Zhuang poetry and song,in ritual texts, and in a range of oral genres. Curiously, this salient fact has generally escaped the notice of scholars writing on the subject of Zhuang poetics. This article looks specifically at the phenomenon of parallelism in one particular Zhuang ritual text from west-central Guangxi. This is the Hanvueng, a long verse narrative that is recited at rituals intended to deal with cases of unnatural death and serious family quarrels, especially feuding between brothers. I provide a general description of the role of song and parallel verse in Zhuang oral culture. I next present a typology of poetic lines and passages exhibiting strict parallelism and quasi-parallelism, and also look at the rhetorical and rhythmical uses of non-parallel lines. As a second step in this investigation, I re-analyse these typological categories in terms of the recitation soundscape as it unfolds in real time and in ritual performance. This second step brings us back from an objectivist account to a variety of emic perspectives, and allows us to see more clearly the rhetorical and emotive power generated by the ongoing narration – and its artistry – for a range of participants within the ritual space.

“Said a Word, Uttered Thus”: Structures and Functions of Parallelism in Arhippa Perttunen’s Poems

Verse parallelism is one of the most distinctive features of a Finnic tradition of oral poetry, which is called “kalevalaic poetry” in Finland or “regilaul” in Estonia. This essay presents grammatical and semantic principles and patterns according to which parallel verses are composed, and introduces a statistical analysis of parallelism in the repertoire of one singer of these poems. Verse parallelism is considered a constitutive feature which, alongside the meter and alliteration, defines this register. As the first line has normally the full referential power of a proposition, parallel lines add to this power and deepen and enrich description in the discourse.

Parallelism and Orders of Signification (Parallelism Dynamics I)

This essay sets out an approach to parallelism in verbal art as a semiotic phenomenon that can operate at multiple orders (or levels) of signification. It examines parallelism in the sounds through which words are communicated, in language communicated by those sounds, in symbols or minimal units of narration communicated through language, and then in more complex units of narration communicated through those symbols or units. Attention is given to how these different levels of parallelism interrelate and may diverge, while revealing that parallelism at all of these levels reflects a single semiotic phenomenon.

Parallelism in Karelian Laments

Karelian laments are performed by women during a ritual – funerals, weddings, and recruiting ceremonies – and were once commonly used in other contexts of everyday life. Laments are works of a special kind of improvisation. They were created during the performance process in relation to a concrete situation, drawing upon traditional language, stylistic means and traditional themes. Among the main stylistic features of the Karelian lament poetry is an extensive use of different types of parallelism. This paper discusses parallelism in laments as one of the central conventional organizational parameters of the performance. Increased use of parallelism in Karelian laments was meaningful as an indicator of significance and emphasis. It is also possible to use parallelism to address the relationship between verbal art and experienced reality, a form of parallelism that would be connected to understandings of its ritual efficacy.

Prayers for the Community: Parallelism and Performance in San Juan Quiahije Eastern Chatino

La42 qin4 kchin4 or ‘Prayers for the Community’ are supplications spoken by elders, traditional authorities, and virtuoso Chatino speakers from Oaxaca, Mexico. Chatino prayers are composed of varied, and complex forms of parallelism, repetition, and formulaic expressions. Units of meaning in these prayers are developed and presented in semantically and syntactically related stanzas consisting of any number of verses, including couplets, triplets, or quatrains. Chatino supplications achieve poetic tension, imagery, and metaphor through the extensive use of formulaic expressions, which are conventionally paired parallel words and phrases. These well established units of the poetic lexicon are part of the collective knowledge of the community. Formulaic expressions make extensive use of positional and existential predicates, making them challenging to translate into English or any Western languages.

Twin Constellations: Parallelism and Stance in Stand-Up Comedy

This paper addresses the interrelations between poetic parallelism and interactional stance-taking in stand-up comedy by examining commercially edited recordings of stand-up routines performed by two contemporary comics. Methodologically, the article suggests a heuristic distinction between 1) an approach to parallelism as a textual and rhetorical device based on sequential repetition of units of expression, and 2) a more positional or symbolic orientation that conceptualizes parallelism as a higher-order structural and functional principle. It is concluded that both types rely on iconic mappings across co-textual signs. The flexibility of parallelism is simultaneously proposed as affording diversity on the level of discursive presentation.

Multimedial Parallelism in Ritual Performance (Parallelism Dynamics II)

This article approaches parallelism as a semiotic phenomenon that can operate across verbal art and other media in performance. It presents an approach to different media and the uniting performance mode as construing “metered frames.” Multimedial parallelism is analyzed as a phenomenon resulting from the coordination of expressions in relation to these frames to form members of parallel groups. The focus is on rituals that involve interaction with the unseen world. Discussion of parallelism between speech and empirical aspects of performance extends to the potential for presumed parallelism between speech and unseen objects, agents, and forces. John Miles Foley’s concept of “performance arena” is extended to performers’ and audiences’ perceptions and expectations about “reality” in ritual performance. The mapping of otherworld locations and cosmology onto empirical spaces in performance is also discussed.

Eall-feala Ealde Sæge: Poetic Performance and “The Scop’s Repertoire” in Old English Verse

This essay identifies “The Scop’s Repertoire” as an Old English traditional theme. The theme associates the making of verse with three motifs: copiousness, orality, and antiquity. With close analogues in Old Saxon, Old and Middle High German, and Old Norse poetry, “The Scop’s Repertoire” originates in an oral Germanic tradition of versification. The theme thus sheds light on the myth of the oral poet, who is either depicted as divinely inspired or as bearer of tradition.

The Fairy-Seers of Eastern Serbia: Seeing Fairies—Speaking through Trance

The fairy-seers of Southeastern Europe are generally women who are able to communicate with the invisible world. They claim to see women-like creatures and transmit messages from them. Sometimes they fell into a trance-like state in order to establish a communication. During this process the fairy-seers can prophesy future events. They bring messages to the living from the behalf of their deceased relatives. This essay is about two of such women from the Vlach community of Eastern Serbia.